As travel restrictions lift, is it time to consider a new outlook on how our wanderlust impacts the environment?


As international travel restrictions have begun lifting, attention has once again turned to travel, but how does that look in the midst of a global pandemic? One option is to seek seclusion. And, as well as keeping the risk of contracting coronavirus at a virtual zero, it  can have a positive impact upon the climate crisis. Once discussed as places of ‘digital detox’, remote cabins and hideaways can serve as a way to combine responsible travel with environmental responsibly.

Take Fordypningsrommet on the bracing Arctic archipelago of Fleinvær, for example. Little can evoke the sense of getting-away-from-it-all like a trip to the Arctic Circle; unspoilt scenery your only distraction. Designed by young architects TYIN Tegnestue in collaboration with Rintala Eggertsson Architects, Fordypningsrommet (which means room for deeper studies) is an incredible series of sustainable huts that blend seamlessly into the archipelagos dramatic landscape.

Up to 12 guests can occupy the entire complex—available for a week at 3,200€—whereas the sort of creatives submitting their art to our international design competition can apply for a complimentary stay; a committee of musician Nora Taksdal, director Katrine Strøm, and the project’s founder, Norwegian composer and musician, Håvard Lund, approving talent who will be invited to showcase the outcome of their residence at a public event.

“We have taken care to inflict as few wounds as possible on Fleinvær,’ says architect Sami Rintala. “We achieve this in part by making good pathways, spaces between the houses, and a common fireplace. This steers traffic away from the isle’s more sensitive areas.” Conceived as off-grid cabins, the essence here is being at one with nature and making as little impact upon the environment as possible. In coexisting with our natural world, we can learn to be empathetic toward the critical issues it faces.

Even more resolutely off-grid, Sweeneys Bothy on Scotland’s Isle of Eigg—the proud owner of the title, Britains most eco-friendly island—is a true slice of heaven. Bothy is a Scottish term for a basic shelter, usually left unlocked and free to all—typically for farm labourers or used as a mountain refuge—and this particular one is part of Bothy Project, a network of off-grid boltholes initiated by artist Bobby Niven and architect Iain MacLeod. A wood-burning stove its only source of energy, this contemporary bothy literally forces you to consider your impact upon the environment; an inspirational getaway that transforms conceptions of modern travel.

These rousing examples that exist on the edges of traditional travel may be extreme, but offer a glimpse into a future where responsibility could revolutionise our wanderlust. We can be the change.

By James Davidson